Newark Dog Bite Attorney
Dogs share space with humans all over Newark. You’ll see dogs and their owners playing at Branch Brook Park Dog Park and walking in neighborhoods from Ironbound to Weequahic. Dogs guard Forest Hill homes, and some even travel through Newark-Liberty International Airport.
Most dogs that you encounter in Newark behave themselves around humans, but not all do. Sometimes, dogs attack and bite, leaving some victims nursing serious, traumatic injuries. Some of the worst dog bite injuries happen to small children, who weigh less than many dogs and are particularly vulnerable to bites on their faces.
Newark dog bite victims may qualify to pursue compensation for the expense and difficulty that they’ve suffered through no fault of their own. The experienced Newark dog bite attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help. Contact us today to learn how we can help you after a dog bite leaves you or a loved one injured.
Overview of Newark Dog Bite Laws
Dog bites happen all the time, which is why state and local laws directly address who has liability for dog bites, as well as other dog safety topics. Here is a quick overview of the laws that apply when a dog bites and injures someone in Newark.
New Jersey’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Law
New Jersey law provides a simple, clear rule for establishing liability in dog bite cases:
The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.
This is what is known as strict liability, and it makes dog owners financially responsible for any injuries and losses caused when their dog bites someone, regardless of the reasonableness of the owner’s actions in controlling (or not controlling) the dog. Importantly, in contrast to rules in some other states, New Jersey’s dog bite law does not condition an owner’s liability on the dog’s past violence. Rather, the owner has legal liability from the very first bite.
This blanket has two notable exceptions:
- Provocation. New Jersey’s courts have decided that the rule does not apply if the victim provoked a dog into attacking. Instead, in that case, the court weighs the role the provocation played in the attack, and may reduce the victim’s damages accordingly.
- Lawful presence. The law makes owners liable for any bite so long as the victim had a legal right to be on the property where the bite occurred. That right includes an individual’s presence on someone else’s property in the performance of a lawful duty or upon the invitation, express or implied, of the property owner.
Even these exceptions, however, may not bar victims from seeking damages from dog owners. Rather, these exceptions simply mean that the law does not automatically hold the owner liable in those cases, and that instead, a court may take a closer look at the role the victim’s actions played.
The experienced dog bite injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, evaluate Newark dog bites and determine which laws may apply to a victim seeking compensation. Contact us today to learn more about your eligibility to file a dog bite injury claim.
Newark Dog Ordinances
The City of Newark has also adopted its own local laws to deal with various aspects of safe dog ownership and conduct.
These ordinances serve important public health and safety purposes, and can also help evaluate the reasonableness of a dog owner’s actions when the victim might have unintentionally provoked a dog but should still receive compensation for dog bite injuries.
- Leash and confinement laws. Dog owners must not allow their dogs to run free when off the owners’ properties and must keep their dogs on leashes when in public.
- Licensing and registration. Dog owners must obtain a license to keep their dogs, and dogs must wear registration tags on their collars.
- Vicious and potentially dangerous dog procedures. Newark animal control authorities can decide whether to designate a dog as vicious or potentially dangerous, when they know a dog has attacked a human, another domestic animal, or livestock. Owners must euthanize vicious dogs. Owners of dogs designated as potentially dangerous have special obligations to control their dogs, and may also have to purchase liability insurance against harm the dog may cause.
If a dog bites you in Newark, you should tell an attorney about any circumstances you know of that might bring these ordinances into play, as it could help you to obtain compensation for your injuries.
Newark Dog Bite Injuries in Detail
The American Veterinary Medical Association identifies the following factors as commonly playing a role when a dog bites a human:
- The dog is acting in self-defense or in defense of its territory or possessions.
- The dog is afraid or surprised.
- The dog is hurt or sick.
- The dog is overexcited.
You need to know these factors for at least two reasons. First, knowledge can help to prevent an attack and injuries, especially in young children. Second, these factors can become important if an owner argues that his or her dog attacked only after a provocation. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, many of the dog bite cases that we handle involve dogs who attack for the reasons above.
Potential Dog Bite Injuries
Any dog, no matter its size, can cause serious harm when it attacks a human, and especially if its victim is a small child.
Common injuries in dog attacks include:
- Puncture wounds from the dog’s teeth breaking the skin;
- Lacerations from teeth tearing the skin;
- Heavy bleeding from wounds;
- Nerve damage;
- Damage to soft tissue such as muscles, ligaments, or tendons;
- Infection with bacteria and viruses carried by dogs; and
- Scars and disfigurement.
In rare cases, a dog may inflict fatal injuries. The fact that most victims survive dog attacks, however, does not make the trauma any less severe. Young children, in particular, face high risks of severe and disfiguring injuries that also inflict extreme emotional harm. Many children cannot sense when a dog has grown agitated, and their small size and statute heightens the risk of a dog biting them around their face and neck, which is how some of the most devastating injuries can occur.
Compensation for Newark Dog Bite Injuries
Victims of dog bites in Newark, including children and their families, may qualify to seek compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial harm they suffer. A skilled attorney from Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help you understand your legal options. We work closely with every client in Newark to explore exactly what happened when a dog attacked them or a loved one, and how they have suffered. Then, we get to work on developing a strategy to secure maximum compensation.
Every dog bite case that we handle in Newark differs.
However, by authorizing us to take legal action on their behalf in New Jersey courts, our clients can frequently receive compensation for:
Economic damages, consisting of all financial costs and losses that stem from the dog bite, such as:
- The current and future cost of paying for medical care to treat a dog bite injury;
- The cost of mental health counseling, especially for a child who suffered emotional trauma from a dog attack;
- The cost of repairing or replacing personal property (including clothing or electronics) damaged or destroyed in a dog attack; and
- Wages or income that the victim or victim’s parent(s) missed out on earning because of the dog bite injury.
Non-economic damages, consisting of all other types of harm a Newark dog bite victim suffers, which typically includes:
- Physical pain and suffering;
- Emotional upset;
- The trauma of living with scars and disfigurement caused by a dog bite; and
- Overall loss of life enjoyment and strain on personal relationships.
Sometimes, in a Newark dog bite case, the Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, team determines that someone’s actions that led to a dog attacking our client were so outrageous and unreasonable that we should ask the New Jersey court to award punitive damages. Under New Jersey law, these damages punish someone’s conduct if it reflects actual malice or a wanton and willful disregard for the safety of our client in connection with a dog attack. New Jersey caps these damages at five times our client’s economic and non-economic damages, or $350,000, whichever is larger.
How Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, Helps Newark Dog Bite Victims and Their Families
Dog bite victims in Newark frequently endure extreme trauma. Children, especially, suffer lasting physical and emotional harm when a dog bites them, especially if the injuries leave behind scarring and disfigurement.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we understand how upsetting and destabilizing a dog bite is for a victim and an entire Newark family. We strongly believe that it is important to hold dog owners and others legally and financially accountable for the harm a dog attack causes.
As we mentioned above, every Newark dog bite case has unique circumstances. The team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, never treats a dog bite case as cookie-cutter. Every client of our firm receives personalized attention that focuses on their specific needs and priorities.
On behalf of any Newark dog bite client, we may:
- Investigate the dog attack that explores exactly what happened, including whether the owner had complied with Newark dog ordinances and what factors contributed to the dog biting our client;
- Seek to identify every party who may owe damages to our client. New Jersey law holds dog owners strictly liable in most circumstances, but we do not stop there. Other parties may also face liability for allowing a dog attack to happen in Newark, and our team does not rest until we know we have pinpointed all potential sources of payment for our clients’ injuries and losses.
- Plan a careful legal strategy designed to serve our clients’ financial and medical needs;
- Sit down with our client, explain the strategy, and answer any questions in clear, plain language;
- Prepare legal filings in Newark courts or for submission to insurance companies demanding payment of our clients’ damages;
- Participate in negotiations with dog owners, their lawyers, and their insurance carriers, in hopes of securing a financial settlement of our clients’ claims that pay out maximum compensation; and
- Argue in court on behalf of our clients, including at trial if that is what it takes to achieve a favorable result.
The legal team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, does not shy away from a fight. We have decades of experience handling dog bite claims both in and out of court. When defense lawyers and insurance companies see us on the other side of a case, they know our clients mean business and that we will work tirelessly to achieve the maximum payment possible. Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your Newark dog bite injury claim.
Common Questions Regarding Dog Bites in Newark
If a dog bit and injured you or a loved one in Newark, chances are that you have lots of questions to ask the Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, team about your rights. Contact us anytime to speak with an experienced legal professional about your dog bite case.
You may also find the following answers to some frequently-asked questions about Newark dog bite cases helpful and informative. Read on for more information.
Can I sue for any dog bite I suffer in Newark?
Not quite any dog bite, but close.
First, the dog needs to belong to someone other than you. Unless it’s a really unusual case, New Jersey law generally does not permit you to sue anyone for injuries that you suffer when your own dog bites you.
Second, you need to suffer real, identifiable physical, emotional, and/or financial harm from the bite. What that means can vary from victim to victim. A bite that breaks the skin or requires emergency medical treatment is virtually always enough to support a claim, but it’s not always an absolute requirement. A young child might suffer extreme trauma from an attack that caused only minimal physical harm, for example.
So long as the dog bite that you or a loved one suffered fits those two basic criteria, then you likely qualify to sue for a Newark dog bite, and we encourage you to contact the Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, team right away for a free case evaluation.
Can I only sue the owner of the dog that bit me?
Not necessarily. As we’ve explained, New Jersey law generally holds dog owners strictly liable for harm that their dogs cause by biting. In most cases, that makes a case against a dog’s owner reasonably straightforward.
However, that does not mean that the owner is always the only party who may owe you damages for the injuries and losses you suffered in a Newark dog attack.
Other parties could also face liability, including:
- A property owner who allows other people’s dogs to roam free, uncontrolled, on property that you lawfully visit might owe you damages if one of those dogs bites you or your child.
- The manufacturer of dog restraint equipment, from leashes to fencing to collars, might owe you compensation if those products contain defects that cause them not to work as intended and lead to you suffering a dog bite.
- A business that takes custody of a dog, such as a dog walking service or kennel, might face liability to you for injuries inflicted by a dog under its care and supervision.
These are just a few examples. Every dog bite case has unique circumstances. Contact the team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, in Newark today to learn who might have legal and financial liability to you for the injuries and losses that you’ve suffered in a dog attack.
Can I sue for dog bite injuries if I was technically trespassing on the dog owner’s property where the attack happened?
It’s possible, but we encourage you to speak with a member of our team soon to evaluate your options.
To start, don’t be so sure that you were trespassing. New Jersey law imposes strict liability on dog owners whenever their dog bites someone who is lawfully on the premises where the attack occurs. The law casts a pretty wide net when it comes to what it means to be on-premises lawfully.
It includes walking up to someone’s house as a mail carrier or other person whose job requires coming on to someone’s property. It also includes any express or implied invitation you have to enter a property. An express invitation is one that the owner communicates directly to you; an implied invitation amounts to one that is, in effect, unspoken but understood.
Just because the owner did not directly invite you onto the property where the attack happened, that may not necessarily mean that you were there unlawfully.
Even assuming that you had no legal right to come onto the property where the attack happened, you may still have the right to sue for damages. By trespassing, you cannot take advantage of New Jersey’s strict liability dog bite statute. However, you may still have the ability to show that the dog owner acted in such a reckless, dangerous way in connection with the attack that you should still receive compensation.
How much money can I get for a Newark dog bite?
It varies too widely for us to say for certain without knowing more about your case.
Factors affecting the amount of money that you may have the right to receive include:
- Your injuries and losses. Damages in any dog bite case depend largely (although not entirely) on the extent of the economic and non-economic harm you suffered. The worse the injuries, the larger your medical bills and other expenses, the more income you may lose, and the more extensive the pain, suffering, and other challenges you may face. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, in Newark, we work closely with our clients to evaluate their dog bite claims and to identify the maximum amount of compensation available for their injuries and losses.
- Your case and your lawyer. Newark dog bite claims do not prove themselves. To recover the money that you need to cover your losses, you need evidence and a skilled lawyer who can present it effectively to defense lawyers, insurance companies, judges, and juries. By putting your Newark dog bite case in the hands of experienced professionals, like the team at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, you help to ensure that your case will get presented in a thorough, convincing manner in and out of court, giving you the strongest possible chances of receiving maximum compensation.
- Who owes you damages, and how much money or insurance that party has. A Newark dog bite claim is just that – a claim – until someone writes you a check for the damages owed. In many cases, a dog owner’s homeowners or renters insurance may cover the victim’s damages. Sometimes, dog owners also have the financial means to pay a victim’s damages out of their own pockets. In other words, the value of your case will depend in part on the financial resources of the party who owes you damages. The more insurance or assets available to pay your claim, the higher its potential value. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we work hard to identify all parties who may owe compensation to our clients for dog bite injuries. We do not necessarily stop looking for sources of payment once we identify the dog’s owner, because we know that others may have liability and that the more sources of payment we find, the better our client’s chances of securing a full financial recovery.
Can I sue after a police dog bites me?
It’s possible, but to know for sure, we strongly urge you to contact the Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, team right away. You may have only limited time to take action to protect your rights.
Police in Newark have the right to use force in certain circumstances, and that may include deploying a police K-9 to subdue a suspect. However, that does not mean that a police dog can attack and bite someone without consequence.
A police dog that attacks a person who is not a suspect, unprovoked, may cause injuries that make the police department liable as the dog’s owner for the victim’s damages, just like any other dog owner in New Jersey.
Also, the police must comply with legal limits on their use of force against anyone, even a suspect. Setting a police dog on a suspect can constitute an excessive use of force that violates the person’s constitutional rights, depending on the circumstances.
Legal claims for damages against police departments and other government officials who use dogs in their work can involve complicated legal issues and tight deadlines. Contact an experienced Newark dog bite attorney right away if you suffered injuries from a bite by any dog owned or controlled by the police or other law enforcement agency.
What should I do if a dog bit me?
Your initial focus should be your health and safety. That begins with first aid.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Newark dog bite victims should take these steps immediately:
- Wash the bite area with soap and water.
- Apply pressure with a clean cloth or gauze to stop bleeding.
- Apply antibiotic ointment and a sterile bandage if needed.
- Keep the wound elevated above the heart to prevent swelling and infection.
Also, see a doctor immediately for any dog bite that breaks the skin. Do not wait to see if the wound gets worse before seeking medical attention. Dog bites carry a risk of infection, in particular rabies, which is fatal in humans if left untreated. Dogs in Newark should receive vaccinations against rabies, but owners do not always follow the rules, and even vaccinated dogs, in rare instances, can transmit the disease. Try to obtain the dog’s vaccination history from the owner, if possible, so that a doctor can consider it when deciding on your treatment plan.
Then, report the bite to the City of Newark Animal Control Bureau, so that it may decide whether to take any action to protect the public from the dog that bit you.
Finally, contact an experienced lawyer to find out about your potential rights to compensation for your injuries and losses. Not all Newark dog bites result in financial liability for the owner or others, but many do, and you risk nothing by having a free consultation with a skilled attorney who can answer your questions and advise you of your potential rights.
I love dogs. If I report a bite or sue for damages, will the dog be euthanized?
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we understand that many dog bite victims are also dog lovers. They understand that dogs know nothing of human laws and little of human behavior, and that dogs bite people as a natural reaction to canine, not human, perceptions of environments and circumstances. Victims do not want to see dogs euthanized, even if they want to hold the dogs’ owners accountable for an attack.
We cannot guarantee that a dog that bites and injures someone will never come to harm. However, we can say that Newark ordinances only require the destruction of a dog when it has a dangerous, communicable disease like rabies, or when it has been declared legally vicious after an official hearing and (if the owner chooses) an appeal.
In other words, merely reporting your bite to the Animal Control Bureau or suing the owner (or someone else) for the harm you suffered will not automatically bring harm to the dog that bit you. Your rights are against the dog owner and other humans, not against the dog itself.
How much does it cost to hire a dog bite lawyer in Newark?
Nothing, unless you receive compensation for your injuries and losses.
The experienced dog bite attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, offer a free consultation to dog bite victims and their families. In a consultation, victims can ask questions and learn about their rights without being charged a penny.
When our team takes a Newark dog bite case, we do so on contingency, which means we do not charge our clients money up-front or as a case goes along. Instead, our fee comes out of any money that we collect for our client. If you don’t get paid, then we don’t get paid.
About Jacoby & Meyers, LLP
Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, has served clients in Newark and New Jersey for decades. Our team of skilled, knowledgeable trial lawyers works day-in and day-out to secure compensation for Newark residents who have suffered injuries because of someone else’s wrongful actions. Representing victims of preventable dog bites who have suffered serious injuries constitutes an important part of our law practice.
Over the years, our team has obtained millions of dollars in judgments, settlements, and jury verdicts for our clients to help them pay for the numerous physical, emotional, and financial challenges that their dog bite injuries have caused. We cannot guarantee favorable financial results in any case that we take, but our clients can look to our record of success to give them confidence in our ability to secure maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.
Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys in Newark
If you or a loved one sustained injuries from a dog bite from someone else’s dog, then New Jersey law entitles you to compensation in most cases. Contact Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, today, or call us at (973) 643-2707 for a free consultation with a legal professional who can answer your questions and help you understand your rights and options.
50 Park Place, Suite 1101
Newark, NJ 07102